Jean Harlow was born as Harlean Carpenter on March 3, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri and tragically died at the age of 26 on June 7, 1937. In a career lasting less than a decade she became one of Hollywood's premiere stars and a worldwide sex symbol, "blonde bombshell".
With her sparkling platinum blonde hair, curvacious figure, easy sensuality, and sense of humor, her star has continued to burn brightly over the decades attracting new generations of fans.
Harlean Carpenter, who later who later would take her mother's maiden name Jean Harlow, was the daughter of a successful dentist and his wife. In 1927, at the age of 16, Jean ran away and married 23 year old Charles McGrew. They moved to Los Angeles, California and Jean found work as an extra in films. She played numerous bit parts and found success in shorts, such as Double Whoopee. Her marriage to McGrew lasted barely two years and she got a divorce.
Jean's big break came in 1930, when Howard Hughes hired her for Hell's Angels in which she spoke the now famous line, "Would you be shocked if I changed into something more comfortable?". Hughes sold her contract to MGM, for $60, 000, where her career soared to unprecedented heights. In 1931, Jean's appearance in Platinum Blonde made her America's sex symbol. 1932 saw her in tandem with Clark Gable for the filming of red-hot Red Dust, her second screen pairing with him. In total they would appear in six films together. During the filming of Red Dust, Jean's second husband, Paul Bern, committed suicide.
Also in 1932, Red-Headed Woman led the Hays Office to prohibit unpunished adultery.
In 1933's Dinner at Eight, Jean was at her comedic best. Later that year
she starred in Bombshell, a Hollywood parody loosely based on Jean's real life experience, right down to her greedy stepfather. Also in '33 Jean married cinematographer Harold Rosson in a union that would only last eight months. She later became involved with William Powell, her co-star in Libeled Lady. With the imposition of the Hollywood Production Code, MGM had to tone down Harlow's brassy image. She softened her platinum blonde hair to honey blonde and starred in more genteel films, such as the aforementioned Libeled Lady, in which she gave a fine comic performance.
Unfortunately, during the filming of Saratoga, Jean was hospitalized with kidney failure and passed away. The film had to be finished by long angle shots using a double, Mary Dees. Gable said he felt like he was in the arms of a ghost. A record numbers of fans poured into movie theaters to see the film.
Jean Harlow's funeral was a Hollywood event. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, took charge and had Jeanette MacDonald sing, "Indian Love Call" and Nelson Eddy sing, "Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life" in the church chapel, followed by a banquet with an orchestra.
Harlow had two famous superstitions:
1. She always wore a "lucky" ankle bracelet on her left leg.
2. She had a "lucky" mirror in her dressing room. She wouldn't leave the room without first looking into it.
1.Saratoga (1937) ~~ Carol Clayton 2.Personal Property (1937) ~~ Crystal Wetherby 3.Libeled Lady (1936) ~~ Gladys 4.Suzy (1936) ~~ Suzy 5.Wife vs. Secretary (1936) ~~ Helen 'Whitey' Wilson 6.China Seas (1935) ~~ Dolly Portland (China Doll) 7.Reckless (1935) ~~ Mona Leslie 8.Riffraff (1935) ~~ Hattie 9.Girl from Missouri, The (1934) ~~ Eadie Chapman 10.Bombshell (1933) ~~ Lola Burns 11.Hold Your Man (1933) ~~ Ruby Adams 12.Dinner at Eight (1933) ~~ Kitty Packard 13.Red Dust (1932) ~~ Vantine 14.Red-Headed Woman (1932) ~~ Lil Andrews 15.Beast of the City, The (1932) ~~ Daisy Stevens 16.Three Wise Girls (1932) ~~ Cassie Barnes 17.Secret Six, The (1931) ~~ Anne Courtland 18.Platinum Blonde (1931) ~~ Ann Schuyler 19.Goldie (1931) ~~ Goldie 20.Public Enemy, The (1931) ~~ Gwen Allen 21.Iron Man (1931) ~~ Rose 22.City Lights (1931) (uncredited) ~~ Bit Part 23.Hell's Angels (1930) ~~ Helen 24.New York Nights (1929) (uncredited) ~~ Bit Part 25.This Thing Called Love (1929) (uncredited) ~~ Bit Part 26.Love Parade, The (1929) (uncredited) ~~ Winged ballerina 27.Saturday Night Kid, The (1929) ~~ Hazel 28.Bacon Grabbers (1929) ~~ Target's wife 29.Double Whoopee (1929) ~~ Swanky blonde 30.Close Harmony (1929) 31.Fugitives (1929) (uncredited) ~~ Bit Part 32.Liberty (1929) ~~ Woman in cab 33.Unkissed Man, The (1929) 34.Weak But Willing (1929) 35.Moran of the Marines (1928) (uncredited) ~~ Bit Part 36.Why Is a Plumber? (1927)
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